Not just kid stuff any more

Not just kid stuff any more

Video-game creators target boomers and female players

Andy Ivens – The Province

In the wildly successful new video game Grand Theft Auto IV, the player, when not shooting people or jacking a car, can fiddle with the car radio, where the range of stations includes National Public Radio.

It’s clear evidence the video-game market is expanding its targeted demographics, Catherine Warren, president of Vancouver-based FanTrust Entertainment Strategies, told a session of the Vancouver International Game Summit yesterday.

“Seniors are an important new demographic — the aging baby boomer with the high disposable income, affinity for technology,” Warren told The Province.

Today’s retirees are keen on incorporating the idea of play into their lives, “which is very different from seniors of 50 years ago,” she said.

“These are people whose minds are very active, their bodies are very active, they are very comfortable with the latest gadgets, so of course they are a good target for games developers and publishers to go after.”

Another market the gaming industry is keen to tap into is females of all ages, said Warren.

“Young girls are playing a lot of social games as a way to communicate, bond and be playful with their girlfriends, which is a very different rationale from the way boys play, which is more competitive.

“We need to develop games that are developed around more social interaction,” said Warren.

“People crave community,” she added. “That’s why things like multi-player online games are so popular because you’re playing with each other.”

It’s becoming more common to see an entire household playing each other on Wii games, cutting across generations, Warren noted.

A series of games on the market is inspired by the Nancy Drew mystery books, “which has multiple generations of women playing together.”

FanTrust is a management-consultancy firm that caters to the entertainment industry.

“We’re focused on growth through new audiences, new revenue streams and new technology,” said the FanTrust president, who has worked in digital media for the past 24 years and has seen many changes in the industry.

“One of the things that has helped my business hit the nail on the head is that the entertainment business finally sees the revenue models for multi-platform properties and are willing to deal with technology companies and with different clients themselves in order to tap new markets,” said Warren.

Nexon, a world leader in multi-player online games, has found a gold mine in its advertising streams, the company’s North American director of game operations, Min Kim, told the audience.

Nexon lets gamers download their games for free but reaps huge profits by charging players for “virtual items.”